Don Foster MP*

Don Foster MP backs RNIB’s “Right to Read” Campaign.

Bath MP, Don Foster has pledged support for the Royal National Institute of the Blind’s ‘Right to Read’ campaign, which kicks off this week, to end systematic discrimination against blind and partially sighted people in the production, sale and lending of books.

Main ImageThe Right to Read campaign highlights the enormous barriers blind and partially sighted people face in buying or borrowing books in a format they can read. A staggering 95 per cent of the books published each year are not available in accessible formats one year later, with the vast majority of accessible books being produced and distributed by voluntary agencies run on charitable funds with no government funding. Public libraries’ stock of large print and audio stock is dwindling across the UK because of lack of investment. Meanwhile commercially produced audio books are usually abridged and twice the price of the print version.
Don Foster comments: “I am shocked at how difficult it is for blind and partially sighted people to enjoy the pleasure of reading books. They face an incredibly restricted choice, long waits for books that everyone else read months ago, and they will often have to pay more into the bargain. I took up this issue as soon as the Bath & Wansdyke Society for the Blind and Partially Sighted alerted me to the impact of our copyright laws on their members.
“Under copyright law it is even possible for publishers to refuse permission for books to be put into accessible formats. That cannot be right. The Government and the publishing industry must act with urgency to increase the range of accessible titles available for sale and through libraries. Blind and partially sighted people should be able to read the same books as sighted people, at the same time and at the same price. I hope everyone will back the Right to Read campaign to make this a reality.”
Don Foster MP has added his support to the Private Members Bill that will be essential to removing the barriers caused by copyright law. This Bill has its crucial third reading in the Commons on 21st June. Don Foster will also be lobbying Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell MP to set up a £20 million Access to Reading fund to support the mainly voluntary sector transcription industry to produce more accessible books.
Locally, Don Foster will be campaigning to ensure blind and partially sighted readers are aware of specialist library services such as RNIB’s renowned Talking Books - available from this week in a new digital CD format - and supporting public libraries to improve services to people with sight problems.
Notes to Editors follow…

Notes to editors:

Information about RNIB’s new Digital Talking Books service and copies of two new reports published this week by RNIB, “A Right to Read” and “A closed book: public library services for blind and partially sighted people” are available from Ciara Smyth at RNIB on 020 7391 2223.

Information on the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Bill is available from Caroline Ellis at RNIB on 020 7391 2096/07881 540426 or from…

The Right to Read campaign also calls for:
? VAT on audio books to be abolished, in line with print books
? Public libraries to build up their stock of large print, braille and audio books to at least 5% of all stock by 2010 and to improve loans between libraries of these formats.


This article published: 18/09/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank


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